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Ikan Pesmol (Sundanese Fish Curry)

By: Ilona Salim

Ikan Pesmol (pronounced : pes-mall) is a type of Indonesian fish curry originating from the Sundanese region of West Java. Characterized by its stark yellow color, this fragrant fish dish always lures us into wanting more. It was Briana's birthday a few weeks back and this was on her food wish list; so I decided to bring a little bit of home to our dinner table that night! Check out the recipe if you want to give it a try!

The Recipe - Ikan Pesmol


  • 1 fried whole snapper

    • 1 lime

    • 1 tbsp salt (more to taste)

    • 2 stalks of lemongrass

    • 3 pieces of Bay leave

    • 7-10 pieces of Thai Chili (or other chili)

    • 7 piece of baby shallots

    • 1 tbsp vinegar

    • 1 tsp pepper

    • 1 tsp sugar (more to taste)

    • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (optional topping)

    • 3-5 tbsp cooking oil

Grounded spices:

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 7 pieces baby shallots

  • 2 pieces of candlenut

  • 1 cm ginger

  • 1.5 tsp of turmeric


  1. If fish is fresh, squeeze half a lime and sprinkle some salt on the fish. Then, fry until cooked. If buying at an asian market, you can ask the seller if they can fry it for you. (This is what I did!)

  2. Cut the fish into several pieces (we did 3 sections).

  3. Combine the ingredients of grounded spices in a food processor/blender and grind until smooth.

  4. Chop up your lemon grass, bay leaves, thai chili, shallots and tomatoes (optional) into your own desired size. I tend to chop them into larger pieces.

  5. Place about 3-4 tablespoon of cooking oil into a large saucepan or wok.

  6. Once heated, pour your grounded spice into the pan and stir fry.

  7. Add in some vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar.

  8. Once fragrant, add 2 cups of water.

  9. Place fried fish into the pan and let simmer until sauce thickens.


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